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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Friday's with Fred-Cinema Spotlight on 1948's Easter Parade

There is one film that every vintage aficionado needs to watch Easter, I am talking of course about 1948's Easter Parade.

Featuring the titular Irving Berlin song and commemorating New York City's famous 5th Avenue parade the film was a huge success when it was released in 1948 and his remained popular over the years.  Its the sort of lavish technicolor musical that really exemplifies Hollywood's golden age.   

The film was originally meant to star Gene Kelly, but after he was injured Fred Astaire was lured out of a brief retirement to replace him.  I personally much prefer Astaire's style of dancing and I think it really elevates this film.   The plot, like that of most mid-century musicals, is thin at best, but its the singing, dancing, and clothing that are the reasons for watching it, and in those areas it does not disappoint.

The film is meant to be set in New York in 1912, and while the fashions shown reference the Edwardian era they are interpreted through a distinctly 1940s lens.   This film really has some of the best 1940s fashions, in dazzling color, that I've seen on screen, and of course being an Easter film, the hats are beyond the pale.  Fred plays Don Hewes a successful musical hall song and dance man.   In the very first scene Fred is shown shopping for extravagant Easter hats for his partner and sweet heart Nadine Hale, played by Ann Miller.  

Not content with just a hat Don next stops of at the toy shop to buy a stuffed bunny 

but gets distracted by the drums:

Clearly Nadine doesn't know a good thing when she has one because despite the hat, flowers and bunny, Don has gifted her she is more interested in his best friend, Johnny, played by Peter Lawford.  To be fair Johnny does gift Nadine with an adorable pug puppy:

image source
Nadine dumps Don, breaking his heart and stalling career.  A despondent  Don goes out drinking and decides that he doesn't Nadine and that he can make any girl a star.  Naturally, his sights settle on Hannah, played by Judy Garland:

Hannah is decidedly less sophisticated then her predecessor:

Unimpressed by her plain clothes and dull name, Hannah Brown, 

Don tries remaking her in Nadine's image, christening her Juanita

with predictably disastrous results.  He soon realizes the error of his ways and comes to appreciate Hannah's charms.  For the rest of the film she wears simpler costumes, with a very 1940s feel,  despite the time period of the film:

Nadine appears throughout the rest of the film too.  Her costumes are more glamorous, and a few like this striped dress and flower sprigged hat, are more Edwardian in style:

but most  are pure 1940s:

Even if you haven't seen the film its probably pretty obvious to figure out how t his one ends up.  Needless to say Fred learns to appreciate Hannah's quieter charms.   The end of the film has Hannah gifting Don with a pink ribboned top hat:

(I love this hat so much I had Deb of Pug Possessed make a copy for Weasley Easter last year):

The happy couple walk down 5th Avenue arm in arm in their Easter finery as Berlin's famous song plays:


  1. That was a great film. My aunt used to be mad about musicals and made me watch them all with her :)
    Love your outfit, so chic.
    Lynne x

  2. Grab some popcorn and the pugs and settle in for another viewing of Easter Parade.

  3. Such a good movie. We got to get out our bonnet
    Lily & Edward

  4. Ditto Bella. Going to get the popcorn ready. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. Wonderful spotlight on what has to be one of the loveliest, most enjoyable musicals ever! I love Easter Parade, too, and remember watching it over an over again on VSH as a youngster, studying the costumes (and hats!) at length.

    ♥ Jessica


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